Foreign art writers and curators have been paying attention to Greece for a few years now, curious about what kind of art the crisis and a number of significant events have resulted in. But the fact is that they have tended to focus their curiosity on contemporary art, graffiti and photography.
Painter George Hadoulis, who is currently showing a series of new works at the Skoufa Gallery in Athens, has drawn inspiration from the turbulent negotiations between the Greek government and international creditors in the summer of 2015 that brought the country to the brink of a eurozone exit. The sense of uncertainty all the drama generated, the likelihood of being kicked out of Europe and the threat of an economic implosion compelled the artist to look for an antidote in painting.
His studio became his subject, his familiar space, his “cocoon,” as writer Christos Chomenidis describes it in the introduction of the exhibition's catalog. A defense mechanism, we may say. Speaking to Kathimerini, however, Hadoulis offers a different interpretation.
“One of the ways I was able to draw some courage, but mainly to feel that I was re-establishing my presence in life and seeing some meaning in my work, was to turn to what I know best: painting. But what? As a citizen, all I could do to feel useful to others was to try show them the beauty I see,” says the artist.
Most of the paintings in the show depict scenes Hadoulis beheld either right beside or just beyond his easel: a couch, a bookcase, an armchair, ceramic vases he made himself, picture frames.
His work is indeed uplifting and not just because of the bright colors that cast the mind back to modernism, but also because of the illusion they convey that you can escape into a different world, one that is pretty and protected.
It brings to mind being a child and believing that there's a secret room somewhere, where we can hide from the world. The difference is that Hadoulis wanted to share his haven with us and perhaps this is why we can make out his form – either explicitly or tacitly – in every one of his new paintings, ever-present.
Other than his powerful and vibrant oils, his works on paper with charcoal, ink and pastels are also very interesting.
Skoufa Gallery, 4 Skoufa, Kolonaki, tel 210.364.3025. www.skoufagallery.gr. The show runs to May 15.